Disney’s Next ‘Star Wars’ Project Takes Inspiration From Nazi Literature

in Entertainment, Star Wars

James Earl Jones and David Prowse as Darth Vader

Credit: Lucasfilm

From its inception, George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise has acted as a political allegory, examining real-world issues like the Vietnam War and the Nixon Administration through the rise of the Galactic Empire, the fall of the Republic, and the Galactic Civil War. But an upcoming book penned by historian Chris Kempshall might be Star Wars’ most overtly political project yet.

Emperor Palpatine smiling at Darth Vader
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Earlier this week, StarWars.com announced the next literary addition to the galaxy far, far away: a canon novel titled “Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of the Galactic Empire” from DK Publishing and author Chris Kempshall.

As the title suggests, the book will “explore the dark times from stories across mediums, including movies, games, series, books, and comics, with chapters covering every aspect of the Emperor’s regime,” acting as a deep dive into Chancellor-turned-Emperor Palpatine’s (Ian McDiarmid) nefarious 24-year reign over the galaxy.

Darth Sidious smiling in Return of the Jedi
Credit: Lucasfilm

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While the premise of “The Rise and Fall of the Galactic Empire” seems simple enough, you might be surprised to learn about its real-world inspiration: the Third Reich, AKA the German state that existed under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party between 1933 and 1945.

On X (the platform formerly known as Twitter), Kempshall shared the chilling opening line of his upcoming book: “History tells us that, given enough time, all empires will fall. But if we do not also come to understand how and why they rise, we will remain trapped in this cycle forever.”

Right off the bat, it’s evident that Kempshall’s words have real-world connotations. And interestingly enough, he went on to reveal that his “holy trilogy” of inspiration consisted of the canon Star Wars novel “Skywalker: A Family at War,” a bust of Emperor Palpatine, and author William L. Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany.”

And here’s the ‘holy trinity’ of inspiration (featuring @KristinBaver)

It’s clear to see that “Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of the Galactic Empire” drew some inspiration from William L. Shirer’s historical account, paying homage to the book with its title. And given the Galactic Empire’s totalitarianism and fascist overtones, Kempshall certainly isn’t the first Star Wars creator to use the Third Reich as a reference.

Of course, artists of all mediums are often inspired by historical events, as bleak as much of them are. With this in mind, it’s far from shocking to see Kempshall drawing real-world comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Galactic Empire — especially given the Disney Sequel Trilogy’s more overt references to the Third Reich with the First Order and its not-so-subtle imagery.

The First Order troopers in 'The Force Awakens'
Credit: Lucasfilm

As for Kempshall, “Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of the Galactic Empire” has been a long time coming, perfectly blending his love of the sci-fi franchise with his experience as a historian.

“I’ve always found the Empire utterly fascinating both as a fan and then as a historian,” he said in the same interview. “Working on Star Wars: Battles that Changed the Galaxy helped me think really long and hard about what in-universe historians might say about the Empire, but it only gave me a taste. I — much like Anakin — wanted more!”

“That’s what this book has been for me and Beaumont Kin,” he added. “The chance to fully and deeply explore the realities of the Empire and to show all of you what it looks like up close. This is my first solo Star Wars book but it’s one I’ve wanted to write for most of my life.”

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill, L) and Darth Vader (R) stand beside each other in 'Star Wars'
Credit: Lucasfilm

For now, it’s safe to say that we can expect to see new perspectives from familiar Star Wars characters like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and even Darth Vader (James Earl Jones/Hayden Christen) in the upcoming novel, which Kempshall himself admitted “will not all be easy reading.”

With Disney+ additions like Andor and Star Wars: The Bad Batch continuing to showcase the dark reality of living under Palptine’s regime, it seems like Lucasfilm is going all-in on more tonally serious content in its new releases. And it sounds like this upcoming book could be one of the franchise’s most compelling yet.

“Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of the Galactic Empire” hits shelves on July 9, 2024.

What do you think of the surprising inspiration for the next Star Wars novel? Let us know in the comments below!

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